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Rays rookie Longoria leads voting for final AL All-Star spot

The Rays’ Carlos Pena ties the score at 1 with a home run in the sixth inning off Yankees starter Sidney Ponson. Pena has three homers in his past six games.

Associated Press

The Rays’ Carlos Pena ties the score at 1 with a home run in the sixth inning off Yankees starter Sidney Ponson. Pena has three homers in his past six games.

NEW YORK — 3B Evan Longoria already has an American League Player of the Week Award. Wednesday, he was named AL Rookie of the Month for June. There may be a bigger prize tonight when results of the voting for the final spot on the AL All-Star team are announced.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Longoria had more than 3.75-million votes and maintained a slim lead over the White Sox's Jermaine Dye and the Yankees' Jason Giambi — whose campaign included the Support the 'Stache giveaway of free moustaches at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Voting ends at 5 p.m. today.

"It's exciting," Longoria said. "It's something I'm not really worried about. If it happens it happens, and it will definitely be a dream come true. I'll be excited to be here and all that, but if not I've plans to go back to the West Coast and just hang out and be with friends and family."

Longoria said his friends and relatives organized a campaign for votes, and the Rays on Wednesday released a video pitch by ESPN commentator (and season-ticket holder) Dick Vitale. (To view it, go to tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays.)

Longoria won the rookie award based on his .300 average, eight homers and 19 RBIs in 26 games. "What can I say? Thanks. It's awesome," he said.

JONNY ON THE SPOT: Amid talk the Rays may seek to trade for a right-handed-hitting outfielder, OF Jonny Gomes is getting a chance to show them they don't need one. And just in time for the All-Star break, when team officials will reassess their needs.

After sparse playing time the past two months, Gomes started Monday and Tuesday (going 0-for-7) and will be in the lineup three of the next four days against Indians left-handers.

"It's definitely a big week for me. I can read in between those lines," he said. "Outside of a showcase, or outside of a tryout, whatever you want to call it, it's just good for me to get some at-bats.

"The hardest part of the role that I'm in now is that you don't have tomorrow. It's today. It's your three at-bats today; it's not your three at-bats to build for tomorrow. So it's a real good opportunity to do that."

SONNY BOY: Andy Sonnanstine is excited to pitch in Cleveland tonight. One reason is the chance to get what would be a team-record 11th win before the break. Another is the rare opportunity to pitch before family and friends and his native Ohio.

Sonnanstine, who grew up about an hour south of Cleveland in Wadsworth and attended Kent State, expects his parents, three sisters and so many others that he has stopped trying to keep track. That's probably a good idea since he claims that in his one previous outing in Cleveland, a July 2, 2007 loss, the Indians set a record for walkup ticket sales.

STARRY EYES: If LHP Scott Kazmir works deep into his start Sunday, Rays manager Joe Maddon indicated he may call AL manager Terry Francona and ask that Kazmir not be used in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

Whether Kazmir pitches on Tuesday could also impact how the Rays set their post-break rotation, though Maddon said previously he liked the idea of keeping James Shields, Matt Garza and Kazmir together.

MISCELLANY: 1B Carlos Pena homered for the third time in six games and has 14 for the season. … RHP Edwin Jackson has allowed three or fewer runs in four straight starts. … RHP Al Reyes (shoulder tendinitis) averaged 85 mph Tuesday in the first of four scheduled rehab appearances and felt good, Maddon said. … Class A Columbus RHP Jesse Darcy was named June minor-league pitcher of the month and Double-A Montgomery 3B Chris Nowak the top player.

Rays rookie Longoria leads voting for final AL All-Star spot 07/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 10, 2008 9:36pm]

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